Portland, Oregon-based Bent Image Lab and Hallmark Channel have joined forces once again to deliver a charming holiday special this year. Titled Jingle and Bell’s Christmas Star, this half-hour special is a sequel to last year’s acclaimed stop-motion offering Jingle All the Way. Directed by Chel White and written by Allan Neuwirth, who both worked on the first special, the show includes a new version of “Jingle Bells,” performed by Keith Urban.
“I was tickled when Hallmark came back to do the sequel,” says White. “A lot of people responded favorably to the first show, so it was nice to see the new story not only continues where we left off but also introduces us to two new characters, a city girl named Sofia and her Husky pup Bell. Andrew and Jingle are back too, as well as some of the other characters that we loved from the first special.”
The special begins with Sofia and Bell moving from tropical Palm City to snowy Pineville, where they meet Andrew and Jingle. While Andrew and Jingle are excited to welcome their new neighbors, shy Sofia misses her Palm City. After a snowstorm keeps Sofia from returning to Palm City for Christmas, Andrew and Jingle find a way to still make her Christmas special.
“There is a lot more complexity in the animation itself,” says Hallmark’s product development director Kevin Swanson. “The trees and puppet hair blow around, there are multiple characters on set at the same time; it makes me think about the folks doing the animation. You have to have a lot more awareness of what is happening on the set.”
“I always find stop motion brings you back to a time when Christmas specials and TV shows were done in that old style,” says Bent exec producer Ray Di Carlo. “You can have enduring shows that are done in other methods, but stop motion is tactile. You see surfaces; you see light bouncing off of things. To me it is a more deeply rooted emotional experience when you can see light reflecting off of a character’s eyes.”
The special will air on November 23rd at 7 p.m./6 p.m. Central on Hallmark Channel. Here is the trailer: